Sports stars are omnipresent icons of popular culture. In the global age of celebrity, few public personae enjoy greater popularity and recognition than professional athletes. Yet, beyond their sporting achievements, athletes – from stars with near-global appeal such as Muhammad Ali or Tiger Woods to local and national sporting heroes – embody and reflect key political, social, and cultural discourses of our time. This anthology investigates sports stardom in its global context across the spectrum of spectator sport: from the quest of Japanese star athletes to exorcise the cultural demons of postwar Japan, to the Mexican pitcher celebrating victory in the first major league baseball game played on Mexican soil; from the naturalization of a Croatian footballer in Israel, to the marginalization of Scottish women curlers at the Winter Olympics.
Reflecting this focus, Bodies of Discourse conceptualizes the discourses surrounding sports stars as part of an increasingly transnational and fragmented public sphere and thus traces the economic, social, and cultural roles of these discourses, ranging from nationalism and racism to foreign affairs and sexual politics.